Recently the Prime Minister of one Caribbean island has cited the deep-rooted social issues that continue to plague the region. The Prime Minister wants this issue to be addressed following yesterday’s launch of the Global Partnership to end violence among youth. He cited the ingrained practices such as corporal punishment as a part of the problem that has been contributing to the abuse which many children and adolescents face daily..
In addition to the use of corporal punishment in schools violence against children and adolescents is meted out when they go about their daily activities within the home, school and community in other ways. The age groups to which these young people belong spans from babies a few weeks or months old up to when they enter young adulthood at around eighteen years of age. The abuse they experience varies from physical, sexual or emotional abuse or a combination of all three.
Violence against children and occurring in the first decade of life is both a problem in itself and a major risk factor for other forms of violence and health problems through a person’s life. For instance, a WHO study estimated that the lifetime impact of child sexual abuse accounts for approximately 6% of cases of depression, 6% of alcohol and drug abuse/dependence, 8% of suicide attempts, 10% of panic disorders and 27% of post traumatic stress disorders. Other studies have also linked child physical abuse, sexual abuse and other childhood adversities to excessive smoking, eating disorders, and high-risk sexual behaviour, which in turn are associated with some of the leading causes of death including cancers and cardiovascular disorders (WHO).( http://www.who.int/features/qa/44/en/)
So what can well thinking people do? My response is: ensure that parents, teachers and others should have systems in place that allows for monitoring of children and adolescents carefully.But really, how many parents are available for monitoring their children carefully? Several news reports in the Caribbean speak of little or no supervision of one or both parents. The news gets worse when reports are told of missing mothers who are eventually found dead while the young children wander around in their home communities. I cannot imagine the trauma these incidences unleash on families. These problems I believe arise and continue due to financial, emotional and mental health issues within families, hence both male and females make poor choices in choosing partners with whom they have children. Families need more careful attention by the state without this body prying unnecessarily in their private affairs. If these systems are in place children may be spared much of the impact of neglect, abuse and abandonment.
The Adolescent Brain